- OTTAWA - Warm winter. Usually
an oxymoron, but almost an axiom in the southern parts of Ontario and
from December to February. How warm was it?
- "Winter in southern Ontario and southern Quebec
was the warmest since national records began in 1948," Environment
Canada reported Thursday. The average temperature was 4.8 C above normal,
an amazing departure from average conditions.
- "Toronto's winter was unprecedented, the warmest
. . . since city records began in 1840. The average winter temperature
was above freezing (1.3 C) and 4.7 C above normal." Daily highs were
above freezing for 72 days.
- Winter was exceptional in Montreal - the warmest in 60
years with an unprecedented 51 days above freezing. The average temperature
of -3.3 C was 5.4 C above normal.
- "For the first time since records began in 1941,
the overnight lows did not reach the -20 C mark."
- The department said the very warm conditions "may
be a harbinger" of what winters in southern Ontario and southern
will be like in 50 years.
- Other Ontario cities experiencing record warmth were
Hamilton, London, Ottawa and Windsor. In Quebec, Bagotville, Val D'Or and
Quebec City were hot spots.
- Snowfall was also scant this year.
- "Most of Canada was drier than normal, especially
the Prairies, southern Ontario, southern Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Alberta was the driest area, receiving less than half the normal
- The water equivalent of snow in southern Alberta,
and southern Manitoba as of March 1 was less than half of normal, raising
concerns for agriculture.
- While many people may have welcomed the warmth,
Canada had several concerns.
- "Pests and diseases, which are normally kept in
check by lengthy cold spells, are multiplying in some areas," it said,
citing the mountain pine beetle threat to forests in British Columbia and
the spread of a tick which causes Lyme disease.
- In the far North, the opening of ice roads was delayed,
increasing costs of consumer goods usually delivered in early winter.
tourism and mining also suffered.
- Despite the warm news, Environment Canada had a warning
about the lions of March:
- "It should be noted that winter-like conditions
can continue into March. Severe snow storms have occurred on occasion
March, or even April."
- © Copyright 2002 The Canadian Press